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Ireland name six uncapped players in 35-man squad for Six Nations

Ireland name six uncapped players in 35-man squad for Six Nations
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Ulster's John Cooney is a notable absentee in the 35-man group.

Ireland have named a 35-man squad for the final two rounds of the 2020 Six Nations, which will resume on October 24.

Six uncapped players are included for the games against Italy at the Aviva Stadium and the trip to France on October 31.

Head coach Andy Farrell said: “There has been a huge effort right across Irish Rugby to ensure that the professional game could return safely and that work is greatly appreciated by the national management.

“We have protocols in place to safeguard the welfare of the players and staff and are looking forward to completing the Six Nations Championships.

“We have two competitions to play in over the coming months but will focus first on a strong finish to the Six Nations Championships.

“The return to rugby has not been without its challenges as some players have suffered injury setbacks and there has been limited playing opportunities ahead of a busy and exciting international window.

“We will be closely monitoring the form and fitness of players competing in the Guinness PRO14 over the coming weeks.”

John Cooney, centre, has struggled for form with Ulster since rugby's resumption
John Cooney, centre, has struggled for form with Ulster since rugby’s resumption (Donall Farmer/PA)

Ulster scrum-half John Cooney has missed out despite appearing off the bench in Ireland’s three matches in the tournament earlier this year.

Farrell’s men are currently fourth in the table, but only four points off joint-leaders England and France and with a game in hand over their title rivals.

Ed Byrne, Shane Daly, Hugo Keenan and Jamison Gibson Park will join up with the national team squad for the first time while Harry Byrne, Craig Casey, James Lowe, James Tracy and Fineen Wycherley will train with the squad next week at the High Performance Centre in Dublin.

Farrell’s predecessor Joe Schmidt, who led Ireland to a Grand Slam in 2018 in addition to three Six Nations titles, will join World Rugby in November as director of rugby and high performance.

With the organisation’s headquarters based in Dublin, the New Zealand-born coach will be familiar with his surroundings and will head up a new department in the international federation.

Schmidt said: “I’m really looking forward to getting started. I’m passionate about the game and keen that people continue to enjoy being involved in it, from the young to the young at heart.

“The professional game is the showpiece for our sport and involving key stakeholders in our discussions about how the game is played and how players are managed will be beneficial.

“It has been a challenging year thus far and likely to remain difficult for some time, but it has been great to see the resumption of numerous competitions, with plenty of entertaining and exciting matches.”

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